Comparative Negligence: How It Affects Your Personal Injury Claim

Every state in the U.S. has comparative fault laws to handle the issue of multiple parties contributing to an injury in an accident. Also known as comparative negligence, it covers incidents where more than one person is at fault.

In California, the laws follow a pure comparative negligence rule. This allows injured victims to recover damages regardless of how much fault they may have had in the event.

Understanding Comparative Negligence

Comparative negligence is best understood through examples, such as in a car accident. Perhaps you were stopped at a red light waiting for it to turn green when another driver rear-ended your vehicle.

In this example, the driver who crashed into the rear of your vehicle would bear 100% of the responsibility. This would make them liable for paying your compensation.

However, few accidents are as simple. Suppose you were going through an intersection on a green light and another car hit yours while they were making a left-hand turn. If you were driving above the speed limit through that intersection, you may be assigned some of the blame. The other driver may be 90% at fault and you may be 10% at fault. This would mean that your awarded compensation would be reduced by 10%.

What About Pure Comparative Negligence?

Most states use modified comparative negligence but few still use the contributory negligence standard. California uses a pure comparative negligence standard that allows you to recover compensation regardless of how much fault you had in causing the accident.

Theoretically speaking, you could sue for damages even if you are 95% at fault. It’s best to consult a personal injury attorney to find out the right move in your particular situation. Even if you are partially at fault for an accident, you can still recover damages, but your compensation may be drastically reduced.

There are many cases where an injured victim is assigned much more blame by the insurance company than they deserve. This is a tactic that is often used to reduce the payout amount. When you have an attorney, they can investigate the accident, find evidence of fault, and use their resources to retain experts who can prove you either were not at fault or did not have as much fault as the insurance company claims.

In a car accident, an accident reconstruction specialist can show what happened. Along with the physical evidence and witness statements, this may prove that you deserve the full amount of compensation.

The same is true in any kind of personal injury case, whether you slip and fall at your favorite restaurant or you are the victim of a botched surgery. The more evidence and expert support you have, the stronger your case.

How an Attorney Helps with Comparative Negligence

Whether you have some fault in the accident or not, it is important to discuss it with a personal injury attorney. Your injuries may be painful and they could have permanent impacts on your life. Allowing a lawyer to take on the legal burden of proof allows you to recover from your injuries and focus on following your doctor’s orders. Your attorney will not flinch when the insurance company tries to place the blame on you. They will negotiate directly with them to protect your legal rights. Visit our website to find out more about how an attorney can help you with your personal injury matter.

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